[The Listserve] To My Sister
My sister is the writer in the family. She uses words like “furtive” and “pedantic” in daily conversation without sounding pretentious- they are simply the correct word for the description or thought she wants to share. She’s won awards at ivy league universities, is better read than anyone I’ve had the honor to meet, and received a standing ovation for her maid of honor speech at my wedding, something I’ve never seen before or since.
We’re an odd sort of sisters. We don’t share many childhood memories of playing together since our interests were always different. Even today we lead different lives on different coasts. She is in a large progressive city buzzing with new thoughts and ideas, while I live in a small rural town where new thoughts and ideas have been unkind. We rarely talk on the phone, occasionally text, and send the obligatory birthday card, although neither one of us hold each other to it arriving on the exact date. Yet, there’s a comfort and a grace to our relationship, that we are unconditionally sisters because we fail the conditions often. She once told me I was one of her favorite people, and in that moment I realized she was one of mine. It wasn’t because of our “big sister” “little sister” titles, but we had finally grown quite fond of each other over the decades.
She is talented, which is no deep insight on my part. It’s evident to anyone who reads her work or has the lucky chance to strike a conversation with her. She doesn’t often share her work to me directly, but I visit her words on the web more often than she knows. I find myself entering her name into my search bar to look for any new piece she’s put out into the world. I fear with all her beautiful words and her ability to capture an essence and an emotion in her writing, that no one will ever be able to capture her in the same way. It’s unfair that such a gift can’t be reciprocated; that she is unable to read a stream of letters that embody her the way she is able to for others. Her chosen form of expression, an art she values above all else, will never be able to grace her in the same way because I believe only she could be the one to write it. She doesn’t see herself in this way, and thus her essence has never been documented on paper the way it should. Perhaps this is why in writing to all of you, I’m truly just writing to her.
By the time this letter reaches the world, I’ll be a week out from my due date or have become a mom for the first time. We’re having a daughter. I think about the woman she will become, and the women who will surround her on that journey. I think about you, Allie. I hope she has your bravery and allows herself to be courageously vulnerable like you do. I hope she laughs with her entire body and can feel joy just as deeply as you. Maybe I hope she says fuck a little less, but all of your other beautiful words are welcome. I hope she gets your singing voice, and I hope she learns that voice from you being in her life and singing her to sleep, because I want her to grow up to be an incredible woman like her aunt.
I love you, unconditionally. Not only am I fond of you, but you are my sister and I am yours.